Understanding Wrongful Deaths in Illinois Motorcycle Accidents

Wronful Death Motorcycle Accidents Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers works with victims and families after motorcycle accidents take place in Illinois. We have an expert team in place to come onto the scene of the incident immediately and take all steps in order to keep in place your right to recover. Unfortunately, more and more motorcycle crashes cause fatalities. This destroys the victim’s right to happy and successful life. It also shocks and forever disrupts the family of the victim and the loved ones of the victims. They deserve justice too. They deserve recovery that only the law can provide in certain circumstances. Over the next few pages, we review some important concepts relevant to motorcycle accident fatalities and the legal system. If a loved one of yours passed away in a motorcycle collision, call our offices. We can help you through this difficult time.

How Fatalities Occur in Motorcycle Accidents

Not every motorcycle accident in Illinois or any other state ends in such a tragic fashion as death. However, motorcycle accidents lead to death almost thirty times more than car accidents or other kinds of motor vehicle accidents. Thus, it is incumbent upon motorcyclists to learn about what causes these collisions so that they change their behavior and avoid an incident. Here are some common causes of crashes with motorcycles:

  • Head-On Crashes. These kinds of crashes account for more than half of all motorcycle incidents leading to fatalities. Generally, the motorcyclist gets hit in the front instead of in the back but both can be deadly. Normally, a head-on accident in this situation involves one motorcycle and one car

  • Left-Hand Turn. Possibly the deadliest circumstance for motorcyclists, left-hand turns make up almost half of all fatality situations. Typically, the other vehicle smacks into the motorcycle when the latter is entering an intersection, passing a car, or going around a car but they can come in other varieties as well. The motorcycle’s small size makes these types of accidents extremely common and extremely serious. Plus, motorcyclists often exaggerate the rate of these collisions by going around cars in the same lane and employing other dangerous moves.

  • Lane Splitting. We’ve all seen motorcyclists split lanes, maybe even some of us have split lanes on motorcycles. It can be frustrating to other drivers and obviously it can be very dangerous. It not only is one of the leading contributors to accidents but also deaths from crashes. The reason why lane splitting is so risky is because motorcyclists don’t have a lot of room to cut between other vehicles and those drivers are not expecting the motorcyclist.

  • Miscellaneous Causes. There are a whole host of other causes of fatalities in motorcycle accidents including inclement weather, surface objects, alcohol, and sport bikes. Also, motorcycle malfunctioning is a serious problem that can lead to accidents and deaths as well.

As you can see, there are many ways in which motorcycle accidents can arise in Illinois. When they do happen, they can quickly cause death. Here are just some of the most frequent ways. Hopefully, using this information, you will be able to drive safer and prevent injuries while on the road!

Fatality Statistics in Illinois Motorcycle Accidents

With accidents as dangerous and devastating as motorcycle crashes, it is important to know the facts so that you can protect yourself. Also, they will help you be a better driver in general and add to the safety of the roads. Here are some important facts and numbers regarding Illinois motorcycle accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

  • Motorcycle accidents are more likely to occur at night than during the day.

  • Most motorcyclists that get into an accident were speeding at the time of the event.

  • Four out of every five motorcycle accidents leave the motorcyclist injured or killed.

  • Approximately 7 out of every 10,000 motorcyclists gets into a fatal accident and that number is almost 6 times higher than the rate of fatalities for car drivers.

  • The fatality rate for motorcyclists increases dramatically with the distance driven especially in comparison to car drivers.

  • Almost twenty percent of all people killed in motor vehicle accidents are motorcyclists.

  • Nearly one in ten people injured on the roads in motor vehicle accidents are injured on motorcycles (either as a driver or passenger).

  • Motorcyclists are five times more likely to be injured than drivers or passengers in other types of vehicles.

  • Motorcyclists are thirty times more likely to die in an accident than drivers or passengers of other types of vehicles.

  • Compared to their relative share of the vehicle population on the roads, motorcyclists are inordinately injured and killed in accidents compared to other types of motorists.

What is the Value of Motorcycle Accident Wrongful Death Claims?

Plaintiffs initially and repeatedly ask us what the value of their claims will be in Illinois court. A favorable answer will most likely goad them into a filing a case. An unfavorable answer might make them shy away from litigation. Yet, positive or negative developments can change their prospective recovery as well so they should stay on top of those changes-and you should too!

WHAT CAN YOU RECOVER AFTER A MOTORCYCLE DEATH?

However, damages that can arise (and the compensation they bring) from a motorcycle accident death are a bit different than a mere injury from the same event. In the next paragraph, we review some common types of recovery that families of deceased motorcyclists pursue. They should help you understand what the value your claim might be.

When thinking about the value of wrongful death claims from motorcycle accidents in Illinois, it is important to distinguish what time periods you’re talking about. Generally, we look at before the victim died and after the victim died when determining the financial compensation of the decedent’s family. Before the victim died, the family (or other loved ones) can seek compensation for the pain, expenses, and other damages that that person racked upon prior to passing. After the victim died, the family can seek compensation for the pain, costs, and other losses that the death caused them (such as funeral expenses or lost financial support). Additionally, in some situations, plaintiffs are allowed to seek damages for consortium. This accounts for the companionship and relationship damages that the incident created.

WHO CAN RECOVER AFTER A MOTORCYCLE DEATH?

It is important to consider who can bring an action for wrongful death claims from motorcycle crashes. There is no hard and fast rule for this question. Courts normally try and determine who had a relationship with the deceased motorcyclist and who in that group suffered as a result of the death. Generally, this list includes spouses, children, and parents but it can extend to others as well.

HOW MUCH CAN RECOVER AFTER A MOTORCYCLE DEATH?

How much you can receive in a claim for wrongful death damages after a motorcycle accident or any other kind of accident relates entirely to how much you suffered. The law is supposed to repay you for your losses. Typically, for economic damages like medical bills and lost wages, plaintiffs receive the exact value that they prove they suffered because of the incident. For more intangible injuries like lost companionship, suffering, and other non-economic damages, the law might allow you to seek and obtain two to five times what your economic damages were. Working with an experienced attorney, you can use these formulas to predict what you might obtain in court.

Claims for Wrongful Death Damages after a Motorcycle Accident

Chances are if you have heard of any kind of legal claim it is probably for negligence. By far, negligence is the most common form of civil cause of action. Negligence claims make out that the defendant’s unreasonable actions caused the plaintiff injuries and damages. Wrongful death claims from motorcycle accidents are similar but different in a few ways. First of all, it is not the victim seeking recovery but the victim’s loved ones. Second, it does not state some general negligence but rather that the defendants specifically caused the death of the decedent. Third, due to these differences in claim structure, wrongful death suits may seek different kinds of compensation such as burial expenses, lost support, and lost companionship. Here are the elements of a motorcycle accident wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Someone died (namely, the motorcyclist).

  • The defendant caused the motorcyclist’s death.

  • The motorcyclist’s family or loved ones experienced injuries because of the death.

Defenses to Wrongful Death Claims after a Motorcycle Accident

Invariably, the defendant in your wrongful death case will not go down without a fight. Whether it is from a motorcycle crash or any other kind of incident, defendants will often find a way to point the finger at someone else. With your case, that will not be any different. They normally start by blaming the motorcyclist. They frequently argue that he or she acted negligently and that is why the accident occurred. In other circumstances, they try and claim that some other motorist or one of its own independent contractors should be responsible. If all else fails, defendants attempt to weaken your claim for damages or the amount of damages that you can recoup. These are just some of the maneuvers that defendants will put into effect in your wrongful death motorcycle accident suit. To learn more about them and others as well as how you can successfully defeat them, contact our offices today!

Illinois Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits with Wrongful Deaths

Here, we want to show you what other plaintiffs in Illinois have recovered in court when their loved ones passed away after a motorcycle accident. They involve both jury awards and settlement amounts but both illustrate the opportunity for recovery in Illinois

SCHAAFSMA VS. GONZALEZ; WILL COUNTY; $1,050,000 JURY AWARD
A 53-year-old man was riding his motorcycle when he was unexpectedly hit by a truck at an intersection. The motorcyclist was driving east and the truck was driving south. However, as the former entered the intersection, the latter refused to yield to him and the two collided into each other.

The man died from injuries related to the crash. Representatives for the motorcyclist later brought action against the truck driver for negligence because, they claimed, he should have slowed down and yielded to the other driver.

They also sued the truck driver’s employer under vicarious liability because he was working at the time of the incident. Both defendants denied that they were at fault and argued that the motorcyclist was driving too fast. The opposing sides could not reach an agreement. Thus, the case went to trial where the jury awarded the plaintiff $1,050,000 for wrongful death damages.

PIECZKOWSKI VS. RIETVELD; WILL COUNTY; $200,000 SETTLEMENT
A motorcycle driver tried turning left through a lane to enter another when he was hit on his broadside by a truck, sending him to the ground. Complications from the incident would later lead to his death.

He was survived only by his sister and she eventually brought a wrongful death action on his behalf against the truck driver who hit him. The suit alleged, among other things, that the defendant was driving too fast and should have yielded to the motorcyclist.

The defendant denied any liability but we cannot judge with what voracity he would have rebuffed the plaintiff because they settled out of court after the filing of the lawsuit for $200,000.

DONAHUE VS. HILT; LAKE COUNTY; $1,040,000 SETTLEMENT
In this incident, a truck driver left the bar and grill he worked at with the company’s truck. According to allegations later made at trial, this driver was intoxicated as he left.

While driving, he made a left turn into the plaintiff’s lane and hit him head-on . The plaintiff soon died from the impact of the crash. In the wrongful death action that followed, the next-of-kin to the decedent claimed that the driver was driving drunk and was negligent by turning into the plaintiff’s path.

The plaintiff also instituted a dram shop action against the bar and grill as the driver’s employer and server. The defendant driver actually defaulted in this case and could not be found but the company settled with the plaintiff for $1,040,000.

SHIRKEY VS. FLAD; DUPAGE COUNTY; $1,350,000 SETTLEMENT
The defendant in this case was hopping around bars in DuPage County before he decided to head home. When he did, he came upon a motorcycle driver and tried to go around him. While doing so, he clipped the back of the motorcycle and sent the other driver into a tailspin.

The motorcyclist later died from complications related to the accident. His representatives brought a lawsuit against the other driver for negligence and the two bars he had visited prior to the crash under dram shop laws.

All sides reached an agreement at $1,035,000 for medical bills, funeral expenses, and loss of consortium under the Funeral Expense Act and Survivor Act.

MCCHRYSTAL VS. MORGENTHALER; COOK COUNTY; $1,060,000 JURY AWARD
The victim in this case was only 21 years old. He was struck and killed when a motorist travelling in the opposite direction tried to execute a left-hand turn through his land but, instead, ran right into his broadside .

He died immediately upon impact. In the subsequent lawsuit, representatives of the decedent alleged that the other driver was negligent in failing to yield to the plaintiff and failing to adequately control his vehicle to avoid the crash.

The defendant quickly responded that the motorcyclist was the party at fault with very similar allegations as the plaintiff. The jury awarded the plaintiff with approximately $60,000 in damages for medical bills and $1,000,000 for pain and suffering.

MERCIER VS. CORRANZA; LAKE COUNTY; $380,000 SETTLEMENT
In this gruesome accident, a woman was riding on the back of a motorcycle when another vehicle crashed right into it as the car attempted to make a left-hand turn through the motorcycle’s lane. She was actually thrown off the bike and dragged by the car in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Naturally, she was seriously injured and she actually died from these same injuries.

Next of kin for the plaintiff brought a lawsuit against the drivers of the motorcycle and the car. It claimed both were negligent in driving too fast , failing to keep a proper lookout, and not yielding to each other. Obviously, neither defendant had a leg to stand in countering any of these charges so both looked to settle fast.

The final agreement forced the car driver to pay $360,000 and the motorcycle driver to pay $20,000. More was apportioned to the former probably because he initiated the crash and was probably more at fault by not yielding to the other driver.

Motorcycle Accident Lawyers that Can Help in Chicago!

The Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has built an extensive network of experience and resources that can turn your tragedy into legal relief. We can immediately consult with you without hassle to figure out how and where you can recover. Then, we will file a claim and relentlessly pursue every dollar of compensation that is available to you in Illinois at no upfront cost. To hear about how we can help you get through this terrible event, call our offices and speak with one of our team members.

If you would like to learn about other kinds of injuries sustained in Illinois motorcycle accidents, then please read the following pages:

Understanding Bone Fractures in Illinois Motorcycle Accidents

Understanding Brain Injuries in Illinois Motorcycle Accidents

Understanding Lacerations in Illinois Motorcycle Accidents

Understanding Paralysis Injuries in Illinois Motorcycle Accidents

Understanding Back and Neck Injuries in Illinois Motorcycle Accidents

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